I have been a solitary witch for quite some time, probably about 20 years. Some time spent exposed to coven politics, a handful of very large witchy egos, several occasions of imperfect love and imperfect trust, and a smattering of questionable practices sent me running in the other direction in search of a different way, my way. I stuck with what all my training taught me, doing everything by the Book of Shadows and inevitably lost my way for a while in the monotonous ceremony and correspondence tables of it all. In doing this, I forgot the main lesson of being a solitary practitioner – It is what you make it. Long story short, I turned back into myself, took a long hard look at my own spirit, meditated under trees for long periods of time about my Path and what it should be, and stepped out into a new wondrous, magickal life, one where it is incorporated into my very veins, in every step I take, every day of my existence. I have made many Pagan friends along the way, especially through internet connections. I am amazed at the wealth of knowledge, the scope of understanding, the overwhelming support and the depths of the friendship I have found there. Who would’ve thought it?! Many of them I long to meet in person, to celebrate a Full Moon or sabbat, or simply sit and chat face-to-face for a while. Someday soon, I hope.
Yet, an idea floats through my mind from time to time. Sometimes it is a flash of a scene and at other times it is a lingering vision. It comes to me in very peaceful moments, as I work the soil of my garden, as I sit among my flowers and herbs in the early morning hours sipping coffee and listening to the birds, or as I prepare my altar for upcoming celebrations. I see myself with a small group of other women, of varying ages and cultures, gathering together to swap magickal knowledge, to enhance each other’s magickal talents, to raise power to evoke change in our lives and in the world, to celebrate nature, to trade herb and flower seedlings, to read each others tarot cards or runes, to clasp hands around a burning fire pit of aromatic woods and magickal herbs. In the moments of these visions, I know we are not a coven, but a circle, one of learning, teaching, and friendship. Yes, this solitary practitioner longs for a circle. But why? The answer is simple. Even a solitary witch needs a few other witches around, to connect, to share and to celebrate. So how does this solitary witch find her Circle?
I started to create a circle a few years back, with a very dear friend, a woman I considered to be a sister. She was intrigued by my Pagan beliefs and I shared much with her, although never formally taught or mentored her. Our families became very close and soon we were celebrating Samhain together, creating a joint ancestor altar, sharing a special Autumn meal of a hearty beef stew and bread, and enjoying a night of wine, deep discussion and divination after our boys had gone trick-or-treating. I cherished her friendship, her understanding and her acceptance. Our paths have diverged over the past year or two, a situation of both our making, and we have very little, if no, contact, something that bewilders me, saddens me and angers me but one that I must leave to the Fates at this point. She will always be part of my Circle and welcomed with open arms. (I am hoping that she reads this and knows that my olive branch is always extended.) So it’s back to “Circle, party of one!” Not really a circle then, huh?
Don’t get me wrong. In some ways, I have my Circle, with those on the internet, with my Pagan friends scattered about the globe, and with my own family. Some are Pagan and some are not. Those who are not accept me for who I am, what I am, what I believe and the Path I follow. We celebrate holidays, sabbats, full moons and personal milestones together. We swap information, ideas, recipes, and gardening and recycling tips. I hold late night telephone discussions with long-distance friends about Pagan beliefs and practices, the history of Goddess worship, the religions of the world, and the issues facing the world today. I make up “witchy brews” or offer natural healing tips for sick family members and they accept them with true gratitude, in perfect love and in perfect trust. But this isn’t necessarily a circle, is it? Rather it’s my tribe, my village.